Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Brick Tea

Delhi, India
North along the Ring Road, just as national highway begins to wind its way out of Delhi, hidden amidst a line of shops and shanties, lies a red gate. Once you step through it, you leave the rich local Dilli chatter, the noisy auto-rickshaws and the broad roads behind. This is the entrance to Samyeling, a Tibetan settlement in New Delhi's New Aruna Nagar neighbourhood whose lanes, no more than a meter wide, are lined with Tibetan art shops, restaurants, guest houses and travel agencies, while the air is filled with the delicious aromas of Tibetan cuisine. Monks stroll by in their maroon robes, children run around and the shops are abuzz with haggling customers.

Samyeling is one of the more accessible Tibetan resettlement areas in India, and certainly adds a nice piece of variety to Delhi. It provides shelter to around 3,000 Tibetan residents, refugees caught in a struggle to earn a living in the foreign land.
One such family was mine, with my mother being the only other member of my family.
After completing my schooling up-to the eighth grade in the settlement school, I joined my family deli to provide a helping hand, serving some of the most exotic Tibetan cuisine.
Be it Balep korkun, Tibetan flat-bread cooked on a cast iron skillet,
or a heavier version of steamed bun Tingmo;
The cold-weather soup made with noodles and vegetables - Thenthuk,
or the stir-fried meat tossed with celery, carrots and fresh green chili - Shab Tra;
my mom prepared each dish like a genius chef, putting her heart and spirit inside the Tibetan stew.

Despite several attempts I couldn't parallel her culinary skills, an exception being the "Brick Tea", of which I was the master. Its recipe was quite intricate:
Water is left to boil and when it does, a great handful of the stuff is crumbled into it and allowed to stew for seven and a half minutes (perhaps this was the key to my success, figuring out the precise cooking time for the perfect flavour). The whole infusion is so opaque that it looks almost black. At this stage I add a pinch of salt; never sugar. Then I add my secret ingredient - a pinch of soda, in order to give the beverage a pinkish tinge. I empty the saucepan into a big wooden churn, straining the tea through a colander made of reed. A large lump of butter is dropped into it, and, after being vigorously stirred, this brew is transferred to a huge copper teapot and then comes the final task - serving it hot.

These dishes may sound lavish, but ours wasn't a booming business. People appreciated the food, but the customer base was just enough for the two of us to make a decent living in a small rented house in that settlement.

There was a strange silence in our deli today. The rich aroma coming from the kitchen was also absent. My mother passed away early in the morning due to a chronic heart failure. And I was silently mourning her loss. Suddenly, I felt as if I was a complete stranger. I had a house, but no one inside it to call it as my home. The only chaperon who sheltered me underneath her love and kindness was resting in peace.

The next day, I pocketed the money we saved all these years. It was little still it was sufficient to set on a journey to fulfill her last wish.
Kathmandu, Nepal  
My neighbours told me the cheapest and the most bureaucratically hassle free way to reach my destination.

Firstly, I boarded an overnight train from Delhi to Varanasi. The next step was to catch a direct bus to the Nepalese frontier at Sunauli, the small border town to Nepal. In the darkness, I walked 100 meters along a rough road across the border into Nepal. There was no actual border, just a tiny dimly lit Nepalese Immigration Office alongside the road in the middle of town, easy to miss if one was not looking. Two Immigration officers charged everyone, except Indians, 30 american dollars for a visa. Indians and Nepalis went freely back and forth as if it were one country. After a few minutes I reached the Bhairawa bus station where I boarded my bus to Kathmandu and dozed off.

The early dawn road to Kathmandu went up and down the beautiful, cool, terraced hills and valleys where villages squat along streams and people lived at a leisurely pace. Some Nepalis looked like a mixture of Tibetan and Indian, some looked Indian, some looked Chinese and some even looked European. Since most villages were separated by mountains, many tribes had kept their unique customs and bloodlines.

I reached Kathmandu that morning. While strolling past the local shops in the Thamel area, I was astonished to find, amid Hindu and Buddhist temples and shrines, large bookshops, high quality hiking and mountaineering gear, the latest western music on CD, high end camera shops, restaurants and cafes offering western cuisine, pastries, breads and cakes, and shops selling the most garish clothes as well as the usual tourist junk. It came as a small surprise to find that the average young Nepalis in Kathmandu were also very westernized in looks, clothes, speech and mannerisms, not what you would expect from a completely landlocked kingdom in the Himalayas. Most of them were laid back and easygoing, content with a comfortable job and good friends. Indian currency was acceptable only till Bhairawa, so I exchanged some currency with the bus conductor who dropped me at Kathmandu.

Soon I became a part of the group traveling by road from Kathmandu to Lhasa. We left Kathmandu at 2 pm and drove alongside the whitewater Sun Kosi River which winded through villages set among beautiful, rugged, green hills for 114 km to the Tibetan border at Kodari. The border was chaotic and muddy with dozens of trucks lined up waiting to go through.

I was about to reach my destination.

Lhasa, Tibet
Arriving in Lhasa, my first feelings were, "At last, I'm here."
But my first impressions of Lhasa were, "Where am I? Is this Lhasa?"
It looked like a big Chinese town for that matter. I was searching for the Potala, some landmark that would tell me that I really am in Lhasa. There were roads lined with grey factories, shops and traffic. Sometimes I could catch a glimpse of telltale signs: a Tibetan in Chinese clothes would drive past in a tractor, his cheeks reddened by the weather, or a group of raffish Tibetan youths with longish hair would be leaning against the railings at the roadside.

A few blocks further I saw it and shouted with joy, "There, the Potala!"

The Potala was massive, an imposing palace overlooking Lhasa. My mother had told me that according to legend, ancient Tibetan King Songzan was looking for a site for his capital when his Chinese wife, using feng shui, divined the valley to be the ideal spot. First, the existing lake had to be filled in, not just by workmen, but by using white goats to carry the earth. After many years this was accomplished and work on the palace could then begin. Later generations of kings added to it and when the secular and spiritual rulers combined, the Potala became the monastic seat of government that lasted until the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959.

But my destination was not Potala, it was Zuglagkang (Jokhang Temple) located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. The Jokhang was the place of worship. After I reached there, I noticed that while the Potala's neighbourhood had been modernized, the Jokhang and its surrounding Barkhor Square remained frozen in time. It was busy with monks chanting sutras, ringing bells, bashing cymbals, blowing trumpets and conch shells; lighting yak butter candles; old people twirling prayer wheels; people prostrating themselves full length on the ground.

"Where can I find the Twins?" - I asked a kid who was playing with his brother.
He pointed his finger towards the east side of the temple. I continued strolling until I reached the Twins.
The 'Twins' were actually two huge Cedar trees just like my mother told me, but it was even bigger than I had imagined.
Prayer flags were hanging on the Twins at varying heights, flitting with the breeze.

I was tired after this long journey.
Also hungry.

At a few yards distance, an old man was sitting on the stairs leading to the monastery grounds. He wasn't dressed like a monk, but was holding a prayer wheel engraved with the mystical words - OM MANI PADME HUM. He was turning the wheel gently and reciting the mantra. The atmosphere was so peaceful and serene that I sat beside him.

After a few minutes he spoke,
"You are not from here, are you?"
"No. I'm from India."
"But, you have a Tibetan descent. What's your name?"
"It means the fortunate one, isn't it?"
"Yes, my mother told me that I brought her good fortune. But I never felt the same. It is perhaps my ill luck that the only person who cared for me is no longer with me."
The old man observed me in silence.

"She never told me why her family left Tibet to live in a state of misery in a foreign land."
"Do you know why Dalai Lama left this country?" - He questioned.
"No. I never questioned her." - Quick came my reply.
"In 1950 People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet. The natives had no chance against the big Chinese army. One million Tibetans were killed; and thousands of monasteries were destroyed. Despite many requests for help by the young Dalai Lama western countries didn't support Tibet. Mao Zedong prohibited Tibetan religion. The Dalai Lama even went to India to ask for support, but his request was rejected. He returned disappointed. Afterwards the Dalai Lama was invited for a theatrical performance in a Chinese military camp outside of Lhasa. He was instructed to come alone. He didn't go and Mao Zedong impeached him of high treason. His life hanging by a thread the Dalai Lama fled to India on 17 March 1959."

"But why did the people leave their motherland?"
"Here Tibetan laws and rights were abolished, cultural heritage was destructed. Buddhism was forbidden. Even the property of a picture of the Dalai Lama got punishable. No one wishes to be tortured in a Chinese prisoner’s camp. Chinese people looked upon Tibetans as no human beings. Education was given only in Chinese. Many Tibetan children didn't have access to education at all, or their parents could not afford to pay the towering school fee. Even today things haven't changed much. We are oppressed in our own country."
He continued -
"I was 10 year old orphan back then. I saw everything from my very own eyes. Friends and families disrupting. The agony of leaving their "roof" was at times unbearable. I had no one to lead me, so I stayed back. Even the dearest of my friends left Tibet. Probably now they are living in India."

I could see the pain in the old man's expression. After hearing his story even my eyes had turned wet. The colorful prayer flags looked beautiful, fluttering with the breeze - sometimes waving gently, sometimes raging; dancing with the wind making the ambiance musical in its own unique way.

"So why have you come here son?"
I took out a piece of fabric and unfolded it. It was a set of prayer flags.
"To fulfill my mother's last wish by tying it to the Twins."
He was taken aback after he saw the flag.
"What happened?" I enquired.
"Prayer flags come in sets of five, one in each of the five colors - Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow. The five colors represent the elements -Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth respectively, and are arranged from left to right in a specific order. Your set is different - Yellow, Orange, Black, Turquoise and Purple. Was you mother's name Sangmu?"
"Yes! How did you know."
"Because I made this one for her while she was leaving for India with her parents during the Tibetan diaspora. The first letters of these colours put together spells her name -
yellow - སེར་པོ (ser po) - S
orange - ལི་ཝང (au wang) - A
black - ནག་པོ (nag po) - N
turquoise - གཡུ (g.yu) - G
purple - མུ་མན (mu man) - MU
Sangmu, which also means the kind-hearted. She promised me that one day she will meet me at the Twins and bring it along with her. And even after dying she kept her promise."
He started crying.
Tears dripping like raindrops falling from the sky.

"Then I think it belongs to you. Keep it."
"No, son. Fulfill her wish and tie it to the Twins."
I tied it to the cedar, gazing it for quite some time with teary eyes.

"Do you want to have some Brick Tea son. My small establishment is nearby."
"Only if you allow me to prepare it." - I said with a smile.

Then we silently drifted away from the temple, sharing our stories with each other.

For the first time,
I felt as if I had someone who could care for me,
I am surely the fortunate one just as my mother said.
It was as if I had not come back to my country, but to my home.

I was on the roof of the world,
But I wasn't roofless anymore.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I am the last tree

I am a lumberjack and it is just another ordinary day. I picked up my chainsaw and set for my work. Stumps were scattered all around the region, where once the mighty forest stood.
No birds soaring above me.
A hippo waiting for its fate, as it stood still in a pool of water, once a mighty pond.

The timber company had already shifted its activities to a new destination and I was given the responsibility to log this last Kapok Tree left in this graveyard of dying stumps. The tree was about 200 feet tall and had a very substantial trunk of about 2 meter diameter. The trunk and many of the larger branches were crowded with very large, robust simple thorns. Hundreds of seed pods were hanging containing thousands of seeds.

I switched on my chain-saw.
Aligned it close to the tree.
The first scratch and I heard a sudden noise, "No".
I looked in all directions, but couldn't find the source.
Maybe it was the Kapok.
I continued.
After some time I heard the voice again -
"Oh mankind when will you realise,
It is I who bring the rain,
It is I who give you food,
The shelter to our friends with wings,
Air which lets you live."

I was halfway.
I stopped.
"I am sorry, but I have to earn my bread."
I was truly sorry.
I brought that Kapok down and signaled others to load it.

Only a faint whisper remained in the air -

Only when the last tree has been cut down; 
Only when the last river has been poisoned; 
Only when the last fish has been caught; 
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Edge of the Machete : Review

After his first book of The Taliban Conundrum Trilogy, 'The Eye of the Predator', the senior anchor/deputy editor of Aaj Tak, Abhisar Sharma, who also won the Ramnath Goenka Indian Express award, introduces us to yet another scintillating tale - The Edge of the Machete.

The story opens with a CIA operative, Jason, being executed in front of the camera by a machete yielded by Aamir Sherzai, the 21 year old whiz-kid of Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistan wing of the Taliban. He is as gruesome as he looks, with flowing, curly hair reaching his shoulders, wispy beard and eyes sharply narrowed down at the edge of his nose.

Eduardo Gomez, thirty-two, six feet three inches. Athletic and boastful of his six packs is the best kickboxer in the CIA. He was also Jason's dear friend. After seeing Jason's execution he pledges to eliminate Aamir. He assumes a new identity - Sarfaraz Khan and comes up with a deadly plan in order to infiltrate the enemy camp 'The Beast' in Khyber. But soon he has to face a struggle between Ed and Sarfaraz inside himself, as more and more people start idolizing him as the terrorist who dared to attack the CIA upfront.

Meanwhile we are introduced to another person in The Beast, Shaun Marsh aka Shahid Khan who has his own dark past tracing back to Margalla Detention centre, Pakistan and the Belmarsh prison, London. His destiny finally leads him to The Beast as fate had something big in store for him which will change his life forever.

A newly wed Indian reporter Rahul Sharma, is held hostage within the walls of the Beast. Shaun is given the responsibility to befriend him first and then behead him. But a sudden twist and you see a gripping link between Shaun and Rahul which turns both their lives upside-down.

I won't reveal the fate of these three, but you can surely read this page turner to find it yourself.

It is a thrilling tale which portrays the psychology of characters very well. A gloomy environment is maintained throughout the book which keeps the reader in the darkness and mystery unaware of the sudden twist that might come in the tale. Abhisar Sharma has surely done a very fine job in taking us on this thrilling journey.

Eagerly waiting for his third book 'The Dark Side of me'. 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gandhi and Churchill: Arthur Herman

`Frankly, if you had to choose the greater man between Gandhi and Churchill, 
there's no contest.'

Two men, born five years and four thousand miles apart, meet once when both are unknown. Then they go their separate ways and become two of the most revered figures of the 20th century. From time to time they pass each other as they pass through history, each bent on his own course. otherwise they find very different destinies. One saves his country and secures victory in the greatest war the world has ever known. The other cajoles a mighty nation into giving up its most prestigious possession and unearths the most populous democracy on earth. That is the usual story of Gandhi and Churchill as portrayed by historians, biographers and even filmmakers.

But it is not the whole story.

Historian Arthur Herman has written a well researched book that achieves an extraordinary balance in weighing two mighty protagonists against each other. It is a dual biography to be more precise. The first one I have read in my life. The lives of the two characters have been interwoven beautifully contrasting their qualities and loyalties. They emerge, from time to time, as large sized and leave a profound impression on you.

On one hand there is a modest Mohandas Gandhi born in rural India, who mastered law in London, fighting for independence of India from British Raj. Whereas his contemporary, political arch-enemy, Churchill’s basic point of view in his imperial capacity was that “India” was an abstraction; without British rule, it was a heterogeneous continent made up of peoples who would otherwise be at each other’s throats. Both led their own crusade to change the world, but history stayed on its steady oblivious course, despite their efforts to propel it towards:
In Gandhi's case, to a world without violence or exploitation.
In Churchill's, to a British Empire blossoming into a robust union of english-speaking peoples.

Still, both men had left a permanent mark on their age and a lasting legacy for future generations. They have inspired millions to shape their own destiny.

Herman has definitely penned down a vivid portrait of the greatest story of the 20th century.

The great ship is sinking in the calm sea.
Winston Churchill, 1946

If India wants her blood bath she shall have it.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1946

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great By Choice: Jim Collins & Morten Hansen

"People write how they became an extremely successful entrepreneur, 
but only Jim Collins can teach you how to become one." 

In "Great By Choice", Jim Collins and Morten Hansen unravel the secret behind becoming "Great". If you are wondering "luck" plays a role in it, then by the time you finish the last chapter you will realize that the secret mantra is actually your "Choice".

The book begins with the story of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s attempts to reach the south pole. While Amundsen accomplished his goal, Scott’s attempt ended in a disaster. Collins builds on this story and connects to the readers by unraveling his secret of success. As you read further, you notice that, Amundsen displayed all the attributes of companies that thrive in chaos: "Fanatic Discipline," "Empirical Creativity" and "Productive Paranoia." That's the reason why he wasn't waiting for luck, rather he used to prepare every moment so that when luck knocks at his door - he is ready.Scott, on the other hand left himself unprepared and later on complained in his journal about his bad luck.

This books presents an extensive research done by Collins, which he presents in an interesting way. Taking 2 companies belonging to the same industry, pitched against each other. Where one thrives, the other does not. This book seeks an answer to 'why?'. Probably one of the reasons why subtitle of the book says: “Uncertainty, chaos, and luck why some thrive despite them all.”
The author entirely focuses on figuring out an answer to that single question, backed by tremendous amount of research and analysis, beautifully woven into a page turner. Instead of presenting the data bluntly, the author has figured out certain pragmatic principles which the reader can apply not just in his enterprise, but also his life.

Some of these pragmatic principles or ideas make up very interesting chapters of the Book:

They are the ones we aspire to be one they. Level 5 leaders with fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, productive paranoia. They never blame their luck. Making most out the good ones and learning from the bad ones. They keep striving for success, no matter what comes in thier way.

20-Mile March
This shows us how important in life is consistency. Be it a good day or bad you need to move ahead, marching 20 miles every day on a trip, rather than worrying about the entire distance. This is what drives a 10X company, their consistency to go on and on.

Fire bullets, then cannonballs
This part was my favourite from techno-managerial point of view. The idea is to innovate first with small experiments(bullets) rather than launching big initiatives (cannonballs). This is something close to business calibration  Instead of exposing the cards in your hand, you make calculative moves to rise above your competitors. The role played by innovation is also discussed to point out that, although these 10X companies were usually first among competitors to innovate, it also took much more than pure innovation for them to outperform their peers. The idea is to not only innovate, but also to execute extremely well, as very well stated by Intel's slogan "We Deliver" (although they have an advance R&D Lab).

Leading above the death line
We are introduced to the concept of "productive paranoia" which exists in the 10Xers. The are prepared for all situations with backup plans to ensure that they survive no matter what. You may call it fear, but this fear gives an impetus to ensure their business remains well above the death line.

Develop a specific, methodical, and consistent recipe, and relentlessly execute it. it minimizes mistakes that can amplify bad luck events. It helps in hindering bad luck to disrupt your plans.

The authors deliver the most inspiring passage in the Epilogue:
"The best leaders we've studied maintain a paradoxical relationship to luck. On one hand, they credit good luck in retrospect for having played a role in their achievements, despite the undeniable fact that others were just as lucky. On the other hand, they don't blame bad luck for failures, and they hold only themselves responsible if they fail to turn their luck into great results..."

Overall, this book is not good, but great. Do catch it out!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Strolling down the memory lane

May 2010, Hall 5, Kanpur

I am lying half-naked on my hostel bed. It's just another sweltering summer day.
Exams are over and there is ample time to kick-start my SnT Summer Project. I have no clue how would I go about it. But more than that what is bothering me is an year I had spent in this place. Met some cool guys, some strange; mostly with spectacles, but not even a single one who could replace the Tanki ke topes from my life. 
I unfolded a torn sheet of paper, having equations scribbled all over it. 
Took a picture of it. Posted it on Facebook. Tagged them.
And then silently slipped down the memory lane.

January 2009, Prerna Towers, Jamshedpur

"Abey JD humko corner wala seat mein aaj baithna hai." 
"Kahe bey? Hum nahi hatenge. Humko Raj ke saath baithana hai. Tum bahut KC karta hai. Doosare taraf jao."
Panda, Raj, Ra'ul and Adi started laughing, each one giving JD a high-five.
"Tumlog kis baat pe hass rahe ho? Did I miss anything?" - Manoj
"Nahi rey Manoj, tum continue karo. JEE aane wala hai aur tumko Osama ke saath baithkar RMO ka sawaal banane se fursat mile tab na."
 And again we started laughing.
JD turned his head to the right.
Saw something. 
Turned back with an increase in excitement with decreasing theta.
"Oo Mato, ab samjhe. Beta mere us taraf purple jacket mein baithi hui hai woh ladki is liye tumko baithana hai. Kya naam hai bey uska?"
"Kaun ladki! Kaun Ladki!" - Raj 
"Woh dekh woh jo purple jacket mein hai." - JD
"Abey woh purple nahi pink hai. Uska naam kya tha? Humko yaad nahi aa raha hai" - Raj
"Advaita" - I interrupted.
"Abey bahut patli hai woh." - JD
"Aur tum bahut mota hai mota." I quickly replied.
Another round of laughter, after which Adi went back to his usual activity of sharing sms with some chick from his school. 

Saurabh Sir entered the classroom. The classroom automatically silenced. Except Namrata who was still chattering with some Loyolean folks four rows back. He projected the first set of questions.
"Yaar aaj phir khali sum banayenge humlog." I mumbled.
"Yup." - Raj was already occupied with the first question finding the number of diagonals of the polygon whose no three diagonals were concurrent and the total number of points of intersection of diagonals interior to the polygon was 70.

By the time the class ended we had already solved 4 such sets with the fifth one bestowed upon us as homework. People started pouring out of the class.
"Yaar, yeh set toh solve nahi hoga merese." - I remarked
"Ho jayega bey. Arihant mein aisa ek do sawaal hum dekhe hai. Aaj raat ko karne baithenge. Yaar Inorganic chemistry bhi padhna hai. BK Pandey physical chemistry karata raha pura 2 saal aur Mishra ji toh Mr.G naam ka character ke peeche haath dhokar padh gaye Organic padhate samay."
We all agreed with what Ra'ul said.

"Haan laundo toh jaisa ki aaj decide hua tha. Class khatam hone ke baad Raj chalo mereko Simple Harmonic Motion padhao. Kuch samajh nahi aa raha hai. Phase.. velocity .. frequency .. jo toh ho raha hai."
I took out my notebook and tore a sheet.
Adi and Ra'ul joined me," Humlog ko bhi SHM samajhna hai. Concept clear nahi hai."
"Abey SHM asaan hai yaar. Rotation jyada mushkil hai." - Manoj
Osama nodded his head in agreement.
"Abey, batoli mat do tum dono. Mera madad karo tab inlog ko padhane mein." - Raj
Half an hour passed and we continued scribbling on that sheet unearthing SHM spring-by-spring.
"Oye woh relative velocity leke jo sum banate hai woh samjha na."
"Yaar woh toh mera bhi clear nahi hai." - Raj
"Abey humko aata hai woh accha se. Us samay hum SMS nahi kar rahe the aur sir jo bole humko samajh aa raha tha kuch kuch." - Adi
So the role was reversed. Sheet turned. And the concepts started pouring it yet again.
Half an hour passed even faster this time.
"Toh sabka concept clear ho gaya hai." - Adi
"Haan bhai aaj toh maja aa gaya. SHM ka feel aa gaya. Ab toh SHM padhne ka bhi jaroorat nahi." I was over-excited.
"Itna jyada confidence nahi hota agar tum FITJEE ka AITS ka SHM wala sawaal dekh lete toh. Dekho is saal JEE mein kya poochta hai SHM se." - Manoj
"Hmm.. ab toh exams aane wala hai. Kaafi masti kar liye humlog. Pata nahi aage kaun kahan hoga. Naya groups ban jayega sabka. Mil bhi payenge ki nahi. Kisko kaun yaad rakhega. Sab apne apne life mein busy ho jayenge."

November 2012, Hall 1, Kanpur

I am lying double-coated on my hostel bed. It's just another cold winter day.
The penultimate semester just got over a few days back.
My eyes fell on the black purse lying in one corner of my desk.
I picked it up. Pulled out something tucked behind the coin pocket.

I unfolded a torn sheet of paper, having equations scribbled all over it. 
I silently smiled.
"I was so wrong. You guys are irreplaceable," I said in a muffled voice.

Took a picture of the other side. Posted it on Facebook. Tagged them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Bankster

In Angola, a covert CIA agent is about to exchange weapons for blood diamond.
In Kerala, an elderly man will do whatever it takes to fulfil a promise made to a dying son.
In Mumbai, an international bank is stunned by the mysterious deaths of its key employees.
These three lines written on the back cover were sufficient to raise my curiosity in 'The Bankster' written by Ravi Subramanian.

It is a fast paced thriller with interwoven stories involving some of the most intricate characters. The primary setting is The Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) of Mumbai which is shaken when it employees are found dead under strange circumstances. On the surface it appears as if it is an accident or a suicide, but on delving deeper we realise that these are gruesome homicides. The police is clueless and the motive appears unclear.
Who is to blame?
Who is driving these intriguing and bone chilling murders?

In the same office a young and pretty RM, Zinaida, is climbing up the corporate ladder. Beating targets by fetching several high portfolio clients.
Is it just merit or something else is cooking up in GB2?
When Karan Panjabi tries to unfold this case he realizes the case isn't just about a few murders, but it is a global conspiracy with far reaching implications - a secret that could destroy not only the bank but cast a shadow on the entire nation. He is running out of time and trusts only Kavya while he uncovers the truth and a connection you couldn't even imagine.

In Devikulam, Krishna Menon is fighting against the government nuclear project TNPP. He claims it is unsafe and wants the government to take proper measures. Jaya comes to his aid and along with him comes both financial and scientific backing which helps Krishna in his fight for a cause. But soon this fight turns ugly which pushes Krishna into dilemma through which there is just a single way to escape.

The style is simply gripping and filled with plenty of twists and turns which will keep you hooked till the end. Ravi Subramanian has surely justified what the Wall Street Journal said - 'Meet the John Grisham of banking.' His portrayal of the banking system and the employees, hits the bull's eye. The dark mystery surrounding the global organisation is evident throughout the tale.

Totally worth a read if you love a thriller based on Indian setting!
Thankyou Blogadda!
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Internship Hunt - The Best thing in life is .. [Schlumberger]

'The Best thing in life is                   ' - The lady chalked it on the board.
Looked at us. Then glanced at her watch.
"We will begin in 2 minutes. The total duration of the GD is 10 minutes."

All seven faces - Rajat, Santosh, Ganvir, Hunaid, Ankita and 2 folks from Chemical Dept., were blank. Obviously I wasn't an exception. The two other panelists present occupied a corner each and were seated there as if they were in stealth mode.

We had heard from our seniors that Schlumberger's GD(Group Discussion) topics are weird, but this one was surely a step ahead.

I took deep breath and started scribbling on my A4 sheet.
'The Best thing in life is .. hmm ..' - I thought.
Food  [I was feeling hungry at that moment.]
Free  [Read somewhere : The best thing in life is free.]

By the time I wrote this on the paper, Ganvir started.
"Good-evening friends; we are here to discuss, reach a conclusion and fill that blank present in our topic. We can begin by listing the best things in life one by one, and then reach a unanimous decision on what is the best thing among them. So according to me the best thing in life is - Music. It is very soothing and it relaxes our mind in our busy day to day lives. There is music even in the silence of night and that is pure bliss."
"What about heavy metal? That is not at all soothing." - Interrupted Hunaid.
"That depends on the person. Maybe for that person heavy metal might take him into a transcendental state. It is anyways serving the purpose."
"What about the guy who lives next door? It surely turns out to be the worst thing for him." - added Santosh humorously.
I smirked.
Ganvir was tensed, figuring out how to defend himself.

Hunaid continued - "Friends according to me the best thing in life is - Dream. One's dream often portrays one's ambition. It gives us a reason to look forward in life and work hard to achieve it. Nothing can parallel the feeling of achieving one's dream. It surely is the best thing."
The panelists looked pretty impressed.

"Also at times listening to some types of music motivates us and helps us get over our difficulties. Whenever I feel low I listen to music which helps me a lot." - Ganvir finally gave a tiny smile as he had successfully diverted Santosh's question drawing some inspiration from Hunaid's point.

The guy from Chemical continued - "According to me the best thing in life is free."
Hunaid interrupted again - "My friend I have read the phrase and it says - The best things in life are free, but we have to decide what is the best thing in life - 'is - singular'."
The guy didn't continue.

Ganvir pointed out Rajat who was trying to say something but was overshadowed all this time- "I think my friend wants to say something. We should lend our ears to what he wants to add."
Rajat shrugged, he smiled, and then he said innocently -"Love".
We all burst into laughter. Obviously he had a love story and he wanted to share his lovely experience, but was too scared to utter another word to prevent himself from being mocked any further.
Ankita came to his rescue - "I agree with Rajat and according to me falling in love is definitely the best thing in life. A complete stranger becomes the most-trustworthy person in your life. Hearing your loved one's voice simply makes your day. Your heart skips a beat when you meet that person. Love surely is the best sensation and the best thing in life."

I gave Hunaid a peculiar glance which meant -
"Ladki sundar dikhti hai. Bol bhi di GD mein. Ab toh iska selection pakka hai."

"One minute remaining" - It was announced.

I was so busy observing and noting down the proceedings that I hadn't put forward my point.
I don't know why nothing came to my mind. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, I saw my mom and finally I uttered.
"The best thing in life is my mother's hug."
"I love my mother and nothing gives me more happiness than her hug. It surely is the best thing in my life."

"Time's up. The results will be up within half an hour."

I took my parchment and silently walked out of the GD room.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fountainhead

If you have the passion for pure creation,
and the urge to drive the wheel of mankind ahead,
they say :
you are arrogant,
you are not listening to the masses,
you are an egotist.

But these so called second-handers do not realise that one man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress!

The Fountainhead revolves around this idea and is divided into four parts based on its four primary characters, unfolding them in great detail:
>Peter Keating
>Ellsworth Mokoton Toohey
>Gail Wynand
>Howard Roark

From the very beginning it is quite evident that Toohey and Roark are in a conflict. Toohey, a highly influential person believes in driving the masses in any direction he deems fit. He idolises Keating, a mediocre architect, as the face of modern architecture so as to stop Roark, the real face. Soon this egoistic battle enters the courtroom and you witness one of the most remarkable dialogues. An urealistic tale, yet so realistic.

A must read if you think :
you are a creator,
you are an innovator,
you are the fountainhead of human progress.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Love, Strategy & Antaragni - The Dance

An exotic white designer kurta; jeans; leather boots and tonnes of deodorant, 
still I was missing something. 
I glanced at my shadow in the mirror and it clicked me immediately.

"Bose darwaza khol! Urgent hai." - I started banging my wingey's door.
Hurriedly he opened the door with dopey eyes. "Kya hua Mato?"
"Yaar tere paas hair gel hai."
"Bas gel ke liye darwaza inte jor se peet raha tha! Nahi hai mere paas. Maggu ke paas hoga dekh."
He banged his door shut and resumed his lazy afternoon siesta.

A few doorsteps later.
"Maggu! Maggu! Tere paas gel hai."
Someone shouted from the other side - "Nahi hai."
"Abey darwaza toh khol."
"Abhi nahi kholenge. Busy hai. Assignment kar rahe hai. Mattu ke paas dekh."

I entered Mattu's room. Located Set-Wet. And started applying it on my hair.
"Itna sajh dhaj ke kahan chala Mato?"
"Yaar aaj MUN ka delegate dance hai."

"What's MUN?"
"Well basically it is a simulation of the United Nations where the participants deal with current events, topics in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda. Each participant represents a nation in a session of a committee of the United Nations, such as the Security Council or the General Assembly. Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then develop solutions to world problems."
"In short funda pelna hota hai." - I added.

"Hmm.. What's your country?"

"What's the capital of Turkey?"

Sarcastically he started rolling-on-floor-laughing.
"What happened?"

"The delegate of Turkey doesn't even know that Ankara is the capital of his country. Doob maro."
"Abey competition ki kisko padi hai. Baat ko samjho .. Law School ki bandiya .. bandiya patane ki nayi strategy hai."
"Saala Thurkey Turkey!"
"Chal Bye"

I reached LHC Foyer, the location of the delegate dance. 
Participants had already started pouring in.
Hot chicks, cool guys - So this is how the law crowd appears.
A few moments later familiar dilapidated people joined me.
"Hi Mato" -  Shubham, Gujjar and Bagadiya all three of them cried synchronously.

Neeraj plugged in the speakers and suddenly transformed from a coordinator into a DJ.
We danced like hooligans. Waving our hands randomly. Resorting to Punjabi style when we had no moves in our mind. Who cares afterall its Antaragni.

Suddenly my eyes fell on her.
She wore Blue Velvet, 
Bluer than velvet was the night.
Sparkling Brown Eyes,
And a mesmerising smile.

She was standing a few feets away from the dance floor.
"Oye Mato usko dance ke liye invite kar." - Shubham suggested.
"Nahi yaar. Kahin ched-chad ke maamle mein kantaap maar di toh."
"Bhai dekh yeh tera aakhiri Antaragni hai. Agle saal toh tum placement preparation karega. Yehi last chance hai. Dance pe chance maar de."
"Abey tension ho raha hai .. Mere se nahi hoga."
"Toh chullu bhar paani mein doob maro. Tum bond aadmi ho. Tum nahi himmat karoge toh kaun karega. Poore mech department ki dua tumhaare saath hai."
"Thik hai."

I gathered the little courage I had inside me and moved outside the dance floor.
"Hello," she said softly.
I looked back at Shubham, who was beaming right now.
"You are the delegate of .. ," my voice faded out.
"Iraq, General Assembly" 
"Woh toh bagal mein hai!"
"I mean I'm the delegate Turkey. We're neighbours." 
She smiled. It looked as if finally I had struck a chord.
"How are the foreign relations between Iraq and Turkey?" -she enquired.
I shrugged my shoulders slightly and then I asserted - 
"We'll have ample time in the next two days to discuss our countries foreign policy."
I paused for a few seconds. 
Meanwhile, Neeraj changed the track to 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom'.
"Would you like to join me on the dance floor?"

to be continued...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Love, Strategy & Antaragni - Prologue

Prof. Ramkumar entered L9.
A handful of students populated the classroom.

"Hey guys where are your friends?"
"Sir .... "

"Oh I forgot. Antaragni will start in just a few hours. Your friends might be busy with it."

What he said was so true.
Rajat was busy with hospitality,
Kashif with security,
Kaithal with informals,
Yasho with Photography,
Saxena practicing dance,
And my dear friend Subhojit was busy doing, 
what he does best - relishing a nice afternoon nap in his room, because he knew it very well that he won't be able to find peace once his chick arrives within a couple of hours.

He continued with the lesson on Sheet Metal Forming.
After forty minutes.
"Ok guys, I'll let you off early today. Enjoy Antaragni."

He started erasing the board-work. 
By the time he had finished, and he turned, 
the room was already deserted.

Next : Love, Strategy & Antaragni - The Dance

Mottos of various IITs

Hindi - 2
Sanskrit - 9

कर्म ही पूजा है
Work Is Worship

IIT Bombay
ज्ञानं परमं ध्येयम्
Knowledge is the Supreme Goal

IIT Guwahati
ज्ञान ही शक्ति है
Knowledge Is Power

IIT Indore
ज्ञानम् सर्वजनहिताय
Knowledge is for the well-being of everyone

IIT Kanpur
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
Lead me from darkness to light

IIT Kharagpur
योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्
Excellence in work is (true) yoga.

IIT Madras
सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा
Effort Yields Success

IIT Patna
विद्यार्थी लभते विद्याम
One who aspires wisdom, attains it.

IIT Jodhpur
त्वं ज्ञानमयो विज्ञानमयो असि
You are the entire knowledge and science

IIT Roorkee
श्रमं विना न किमपि साध्यम्
Nothing Is Possible Without Hard Work

IIT Ropar
धीयो यो नः प्रचोदयात
Guide In The Right Direction

IIT Delhi, IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Hyderabad and IIT Mandi do not have any official motto.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ashwin Sanghi - 'The Krishna Key'

Two months back I read the preview chapters of 'The Krishna Key'.

I wasn't excited.
Neither gripped.
Neither shaken,
Nor surprised.

All I knew was that a wave was on its way, ready to engulf me. Each day longing to grab a copy of this book. Little did I know those preview chapters were just the shore-line, beyond it lay, a vast ocean ready to be explored.

My review is divided into two parts. It is so as to give you the best perspective and analysis. I recommend you to read the part to which you belong.

If 'The Krishna Key' happens to be the first book of this author you are about to read

This is the third book by Ashwin Sanghi. His previous two books 'The Rozabal Line' and 'Chanakya's Chant'   had bowled me over completely. His writing style can be correlated to 'Time Travelling'. The author keeps juggling you back and forth in time. At one instance you are in the battlefield, a few pages later you will find yourself in a lecture room, then you are back again in a kingdom. This style has inspired me a lot and this is one of the reasons which make this book a page turner.

Believe me, it is a page turner. I am a voracious reader and it took me just 9 hours to complete the entire book (464 pages of content). I was so busy flipping pages that I skipped my dinner.

To begin with, the essence of the book is a single mythological character 'Krishna'. You realize it as soon as you progress. A fast paced thriller is based on exploring certain facts : 
Was the eight avatar of Vishnu really a myth ? 
The history we know is it truly true ?
Mahabharata : Is it just an epic to pass down values through generations or the events actually took place ?  
What about kalki and the divine 'brahmastra' ?
And several other questions which will ponder in you mind even after you complete the saga.

Sounds boring, huh.
Nope it isn't.
After all you are not reading a book on mythology. It is a thriller.

The entire event is triggered by a serial killer who takes you on a journey, slowly uncovering his secret.
A historian Ravi Mohan Saini is caught in between the web of murders of his associates.
Priya is a PhD student under Saini who is willing to go to any extent to help him out.
Radhika , an ideal cop who takes up this case.
Few more characters[ including an IITian Nuclear Physicist :) ] and a dark secret which finally ends with some soul searching.

Filled with scientific correlations. Lots of illustrations.
A time comes when you encounter a sudden twist, midway (around page 233). 
Pairon ke neeche se zameen hi khisak jayegi!

It is a true delight to read.Go grab your copy today !

Continue reading if you have already gone through other works of Ashwin Sanghi
I am a die hard fan of his previous work 'Chanakya's Chant'. 
'The Rozabal Line' has the best time traversing narration style I have ever come across.
'Key' is good, but surely not his best work. After reading the 'Chant' I had enormous expectations from the author. He drew correlations back and forth, but they were too scientific and at times drag. Somehow I felt that a human touch was missing as it was evident in the 'Chant'. It was great to see his cool trademark crypts like 'La Sara Kali' of Rozabal. The conclusion seemed to be open ended, maybe intentional, leaving a future scope to build over it. But, after reading 'Chant' I surely expected a better ending. 
Anyways it was an awesome read ! 

-Blogged after reading 'The Krishna Key' the second time. Do put your feedback below :)
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Antaragni Leadership Initiative [The Questionnaire]

"The Antaragni Leadership Initiative is a campaign aimed at igniting the social consciousness of the college youth ... blah blah blah .."
I'll cut short this description. You can read it here.

Well this year Antaragni folks came up with this really nice concept, especially for the IITK folks as every second person in our campus thinks he is a great leader heading a three tier student organisation  .

The first round comprised an online questionnaire submission.
I just got over with it. Some of the questions were really intriguing and thought provoking.
So I am sharing my form below.

1. Current Affairs 
Politicians should not play with educational institutes and their functioning. How far do you agree with this and why? (Max. 100 words)

About a thousand years ago India ushered in the field of education. Students from all across the globe came to study in the Nalanda University which made it the greatest center of higher learning of its time. Nalanda had its own autonomous body who made all decisions in order to take the institute ahead and the king showered it with the signs of his respect. It was at the pinnacle for six centuries. In modern scenario politicians think they are the kings, but they have forgotten that what our educational institutes need today is patronage, not intrusion in their functioning.

2. Creativity
You have the power to eliminate one problem being faced by modern India. What will it be? Briefly mention the steps you would take in this direction. (Max. 100 words)

Education System in India is still a major issue and it will not progress into a dynamic field unless the problems inherent in it are identified and solved.
To eradicate this problem, I would take the following steps:
Create a transparent, but rigorous regulatory system that will focus on the academic standards and the learning, not just on structural aspects.
Encourage private participation in education by creating incentives for them to focus on the social and developmental needs of the country.
I think the simplicity, elegance, and effectiveness of this solution is something which can make an impact.

3. Critical Thinking 
65 years ago, We had resolved to establish a sovereign, secular, democratic republic with justice, liberty, equality and fraternity for all. Have we as a nation been able to live up to those ideals? (Max. 150 words)

Today, UN ranks us 134 and 147 in terms of Human Development Index and Education. The Gender Inequality index tell us that inequality is predominant. Even the party which claims itself to be secular is backed by religious sects. Justice exists, but by the time it arrives, it is already too late.
"What we had resolved, we haven't been able to live up to those ideals !" 
I disagree. 
Its not about talking about India in terms of statistics, its not a propaganda. The whole point is that India is the nationalism of an idea. Its an idea of an ever-ever land, emerging from an ancient civilization, united by a shared history, sustained above all by pluralist democracy. That is a 21st century story. If there is anything worth celebrating about India it is this fact that India is a rare example of successful management of diversity in the developing world.

4. Self-appraisal 
If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be and why? (Max. 40 words)  

I yearn to do something innovative and out of the box. And I'll definitely succeed in my quest someday. My story should be named 'Aiming Beyond Infinity' because that is the motto of my life. I live by it everyday.

5. Additional Question 
Answer any one of the following two questions (Max 150 words) 
  • In your opinion, is the dollar value increasing or the rupee value decreasing?
  • What do you think the youth of the country can realistically do to make it better?
The Indian Rupee is in a downward spiral. Not just the dollar, it has depreciated against all major currencies. 
When I read that rupee is sliding against the US dollar, the first thing that came in my mind was that the dollar value is increasing, but how come the rupee is also sliding against the sinking Euro.
Price of any asset is a function of its demand and supply. The growth in Indian economy has slowed down global investors shunned Indian equities. India imports majorly  crude and gold which is bought and sold in dollars. Thus, increasing imports increase the demand for dollars and people sell rupee to buy dollars. This puts a downward pressure on rupee. 
The problem however is the not the Rupee slide itself – the fall in the Rupee is the symptom of underlying problems and we have to look at those problems to find solutions.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Impact of 'The Third Wave'

Well I had an awesome day today :)
After winning the best blog post prize in the Blog Writing Contest organised by Association of Mechanical Engineers this summer, 'The Third Wave' won yet another laurel.
This time it was judged as the best entry in the story/fiction category in a contest held by Book Club of our institute. They received more than eighty entries for this competition and my third wave surely had an impact.


Printing The Third Dimension

I mentioned about 3D printing and the RepRap project in The Third Wave.
Its significance was over-shadowed back there, so I thought it might be worth sharing some awesome stuff which I came across while working on that piece.
Check it out !

RepRap Project Official Site
The Economist - Manufacturing - 1
The Economist - Manufacturing - 2

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Last Question

"How to read a binary file using Python?"
"Use open(filename, 'rb') to read a binary file." - Quick came my reply.

"Any other question ?" - I announced.
"Why should I use Python instead of C/C++/Java as it is quite slow?"

"Because life is short and you need Python !" - I smiled.
"It maybe slow, but you save a lot of time when you are coding. Something which can take you a year to write in C++ might take you just a month in Python, which makes it an excellent prototyping tool." - I added.

"Time is running out so now I will take one last question. Anyone ?"
There was silence for a couple of seconds then a lean guy sitting in the back slowly raised his arm. He shuddered then spoke -
"I was quite happy to see in your last slide that you are a mechanical engineer. We have a software in our department called Abaqus. I needed some help regarding scripting. It is based on Python. I have searched the net, but could not find any tutorial or example on how to go ahead with it."
"Well if it is based on Python then it is not possible to not even come across a single tutorial. Moreover what I taught you in the past four days, might be sufficient to give you a head-start."
"No, it is not like you are thinking." - His voice softened as he completed the sentence.
I smiled and ended the lecture. A guy sitting in the front row applauded, others followed.
My first lecture series in IIT K came to an end.
I was happy.
I was feeling proud.
But somewhere deep down I had some remorse. His helpless look passing my mind time and again, and his last question, which remained unanswered.

14 months later ... in a slightly better lecture hall.

"So with this we come to an end. In this lecture we explored the tremendous potential of this software. How Abaqus can be used in Computer Aided Engineering to design better products."
"Any Questions ?"

Someone darted a question.
"How can we vary the seed density for meshing? Suppose I want more density of seeds on one side."
I quickly gave him the solution demonstration.
He beamed.

"How can I add a fixed boundary condition at a node?"
"Well you can use the selection toolbar and activate 'nodes'."

"So now I will take one last question. Anyone?"
No hands were raised, but this question triggered a memory. It was as if I was still searching for that person a midst the folks sitting in front of me.
I addressed them softly - "If someone needs any help with Python scripting in this software feel free to contact me."
It took me such a long time to figure out the answer to that last question !

Saturday, August 11, 2012

She fell in love .. Just because he was an IITian! [Part II]

PreviouslyShe fell in love .. Just because he was an IITian ! [Part I]

There was silence in the compartment for quite some time.
I could see the girl thinking about each and every moment she spent with him.
I knew that expression very well.

After hearing that I was from IIT Kanpur, one character which had evolved the most was Uncleji.
He started treating me as if I was a part of his family. Just moments ago he wasn't even looking at me, but now I was showered with food and stories. He offered me Gond ka Ladoo, Poha, Chanachoor and what not. I liked Thekua the most. It had an ideal hardness, above which they are regarded nothing less than a stone.

I brought myself back from the world of delicacies into her world of dilemma.

"I think you are right. Maybe he is fooling me. My mom had warned me not to blindly trust people. She was right I should not have trusted him."
"Look ..." [ Whatever she said was true btw. Moms are always right. Still I was wondering what to say next to make her feel better. ]
"... there are chances that I may be wrong."
"There is a way we can confirm. Why don't you call him and ask him who is the President of our college. Tell him that the cult secretary of your college is your friend and needs the contact of this person."

She dialed.
"Hello, hi. Who is the President of your college."
I was trying hard to grab the guy's voice leaking out of the speaker.
"Why do you want to know? Are you still talking to that senior? I told you na, stay away from him."
"Actually meri friend called me. She is the cultural secretary and needs some info on the President of your college. What's his name."
He took some time. Maybe Googling.
I was trying to control my laughter.
"Thanks. Bye bye."

"Was he correct?"
"Nope. The correct answer is Sanchit. But I am still wondering from where he lifted Dhande. He is a second year like you so there are chances he might not know. Even I didn't care when I was a Sophomore."
"We need to figure out some other question."

After five minutes of silence ...

"Are you sure? Hasn't he ever mentioned how our college is .. Hostels .. Canteen .. Mess .. anything."
She started pondering.
"He told me that his hostel is Hostel East."
"Hostel East."
"But our hostels are numbered 1 to 9."
"He told me that each hostel has a canteen."
"Ahh .. there he is right."
"And he also mentioned that during examination time, the canteen wale bhaiya brings tea to their rooms so that they could stay up all night."
"Bhaiya naukar baithe hai kya .."

"Aapke paas kya abhi institute I-card hai?"
"Yeah I always carry it with me."
I took out my I-card. Passed it to her.
She started looking at it with keen eyes.
I thought she was admiring the golden chip placed on the top-left corner of the card.
Suddenly, she broke into sobs.

I got up and sat beside her.
"Don't cry."

"He is toying with me. Now I am sure. Once he told me that they don't have I-card 2nd year onwards and asked me to buy a sim using my I-card. He was lying all along. Maybe he studies in HBTI or any other ordinary college."

After hearing the word 'ordinary' from her, I pondered whether she really fell in love with him or his college. For next few minutes I was sitting silently beside her. The magnitude of her sobs had dampened. Then I thought it would be a good idea to cheer her up.

"So do you watch movies?"
"Recently kaun sa movie dekhi?"
"Kahan dekhi lappy(laptop) pe ki theatre mein?"
"Aur koi film nahi mila tha kya ... paisa barbaad kar di."
"I know."
"Which multiplex - Rave Moti or Rave 3 ?"
"We often go there. Abhi recently I saw 'The Dirty Picture' in Moti. It was a nice movie. You should have seen it in the theatre."
She blushed and quoted - "You liked it."
Then I remembered Vidya Balan and realised what I was blabbering.
"Arrey nahi not from that point of view. Story mein dum tha. You should watch it because of its storyline."
"Rockstar dekhi?"
"Haan. It was a very nice movie."
She pulled out her Tabeez (Talisman locket).
"My mom gave me this tabeez today and told me to wear it. She got it from the dargah where ranbir went in the movie. And with God's grace I met you who opened my eyes."

Kanpur was closing in. The houses which initially ran parallel to the rails 10 meters away, were now converging towards the tracks. I got up. Picked up my luggage and proceeded towards the gates. Uncleji made me promise to meet him when I came to Jamshedpur next time. I promised with a fake smile. I didn't say anything to her.

I was standing at the gate, facing the gushes of cold wind.
After a moment I turned, I saw her smiling standing behind me.
I smiled back.

We reached Kanpur Central.
I got down ready to bargain with the auto-walas.
Meanwhile, I was also scanning the platform for other fellow IITians.

A silhouette following me went unnoticed.
I stopped and turned to find her walking close behind me.
She gave a doe eyed smile and forwarded her hand.

"Hi, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Pooja Mishra."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Internship Hunt - Epilogue [The Dark (K)night Rises]

Previously  : Act II Scene III [ITC : My First Interview]

It is my last day in the office.
If you read my previous posts, you might be wondering this guy went mad a few months back and started blabbering on this blog taking out his sheer frustration after being rejected time and again.
Even I think so.
There is a point after which this cut throat competition takes its toll. But the hard fact is that many of us have the same feelings. Some of my friends even ran out of slang cursing the corporate world for being biased, pervert, and what not.

Right now I am sitting in my office admiring the codes I developed for one of the best non-linear finite element package.
Things ended up quite well after all.
A strange realisation has just dawned maybe it's time I take things to the next level.
Time to look at life with a broader perspective.

But, right now all that is going in my mind is what Batman said in the The Dark Knight -
"Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded."

Oops, I forgot to book a ticket for "The Dark Knight Rises".
Koi nahi, I'll watch "Cocktail" instead ;-) .

Monday, July 23, 2012

The story of Ravana and his people

I just finished the final chapter and took a deep breath.
For past few weeks I had been spending some time reading Asura - Tale of the Vanquished.
It took me weeks because the whole concept of the book was so deep that after every chapter I used to wonder for hours questioning myself, what I have been told since my childhood, was it the truth ?

It is the story of a simple boy, who faced poverty, hunger and various other hardships.
It is the story of a man , who was brave and ambitious;
who loved his country and his people; and who defined his rights in his own way.

Death Note amused us not because of the struggle between L and Kira,
but the fact that they were both right in their own ways.
When Pain took down Naruto, deep down in our heart we all knew, even if Pain was wrong, 
his philosophy was right somewhere down the line.

So in this book I met this simple boy who turned into an ambitious warrior named Ravana.
The author never glorified him, still he was the star in the eyes of his people.
Many a times he was wrong like any ordinary man, still his subjects respected him.

The story behind the origin of dashamukha was presented in such a fashion,
I wondered if we all have a Ravan rooted somewhere inside us.

But, the most striking thing was the parallel story of a common man named Bhadra. The way in which he evolved definitely left mark. We all hear about kings and their values, but what about a common man who even at that time had to struggle for a piece of meal and who would willingly die even for a glass of wine. I was mesmerized by this ordinary man who did some extraordinary feats in this journey of the rise and fall of the Asuras.

A must read :
If you are rational,
If you want to hear the other side of the story,
and if you have the ability to question yourself - Who is wrong and who is right !

Check it out here !